It’s another throwback thursday, and today we have something very special for you! The mighty Messiah Complex has returned to these pages to share with you all his love and affection for the Japanese classic ‘Mobile Gundam’, so pull up a chair, relax as he takes us all on trip down memory lane..
Hey Nerd fans!!
Reporting from a Space Colony during this deadly One Year War where the Principality of Zeon are planning to drop a colony onto the planet earth! (Good luck to em) Luckily their efforts were thwarted by the Earth Federation. Long story short Earth was saved by Amuro Ray piloting the RX-78-2 prototype and the planet was saved. What the hell am I talking about?!! Im Talking about Mobile Suit dammit!!
While sitting at a friend’s house talking about girls a decade ago (nothing’s changed) my attention was diverted by the Name “Heero!” being shrieked out by a well to do princess of pacifism as a young boy swan dived out of a building before deploying his parachute too late, breaking his leg and resetting the bone himself at the bottom. That 26 second clip shook me to my core and I needed to understand what I had just seen; the year is 1996 AC and im watching Toonami on Cartoon Network. It wouldn’t be long before the words “GUNDAM WING!” blaze across the screen and my heart is set on fire. It would later implode when I witness the Wing Zero and Deathscythe doing what they do best.
Since then I have made my way through as many movies, OVA’s and TV series with the word Gundam in the title as I possibly could. It proved quite difficult and closer to impossible before I was able to find shoddily recorded episodes on VHS and then YouTube. I eventually go on to purchase the compete run of Gundam Wing on DVD from a friend while at college which works in this country and life is good again. After that, I literally couldn’t find anything to do with Gundam in London anywhere. It seemed it was too niche and obscure a market to obtain these items in the city, if not the country. I would later stumble onto Gunpla; from simple to highly detailed and complex model kits based on the series where you the avid fan can build your own mech robot from scratch and choose to add decals, paint and accessories. I found them serendipitously in a Forbidden Planet but two things stopped me from buying my very own shiny box; one, I refused to believe I was the nerdy and two, the price was ridiculous! I just couldn’t do it!
Fast forward to 2015 and I’m about to embark on my first of many trips to the land of the rising sun, Japan. I’m standing at the famous crossing at Shibuya and I am having the time of my life. I have one destination in mind, Diver City, home to the largest manmade island on the planet, and the very famous TV building seen on almost every anime you’ve seen. Oh yeah and a scale model RX-78-2 Gundam. Standing at 60ft tall with glowing eyes and steam billowing from its vents very once in a while, it’s like I’ve made a pilgrimage to Mecca. While there taking numerous photos, I discover a “Gundm Café” that sells foods and brick–a–brack based on the franchise. Lastly, in a small cabin adjacent to the giant robot; they sell Gundam model kits. I go in, I smile, I marvel and then, I see it, the Wing Zero Mobile Suit from the movie Endless Waltz. Finally getting my head around the conversion rate I discover it’s a fraction of the prices I saw in London, I purchase 2 kits on the double and once again life is good. Coming back to London, I cannot wait to get started on building them, once I do im instantly hooked and set out to buy more.
I have found some really good deals on Amazon and ordered away with abandon. Once again I have been bitten by the Gundam bug and its poison is coursing through my veins. I’m intending to watch the franchise all over again, but It proves difficult because
A) it’s still a very obscure franchise, Forbidden Planet doesn’t even sell them anymore but they do have a few DVDs which leads to point..
B) still expensive as hell! Speaking with American buddies, they have the same problem; why is it so hard to get Gundam in the west?
The franchise was created by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Sunrise Studios in 1979 and was the largest and most important mecha series to ever emerge in Japan. The US and Europe however, not so much. Why? As far as the US goes, the way Bandai marketed the franchise did more harm than good, mostly due to the high expectations from the company. When Gundam originally failed in 1979, it was the model kits that saved it from falling into the shadows and allowed it to come back into the light. It is now one of the most profitable franchises in Japan. Bandai hoped to bring this to the west without really understanding how small the market over here is. Anime makes up a veeeeeery small percentage of western entertainment, however, Bandai were completely shocked when it did not live up to expectations when they aired the original series. Yeah, the one that bombed in 1979 did not do well 22 years later, who saw that coming eh?! Add that to the fact that Bandai Entertainment wanted to charge a ridiculous amount for DVD sales. When Bandai purchased parent company Sunrise, Gundam model kits were already making up around 90% of the model kit industry. A lot of pressure was put onto the creator, Tomino to produce new series’ to show off new Gundams that could later be purchased as model kits later on down the line. This pressure threw Tomino into a depression, subsequently leaving Bandai Visual and the Gundam franchise as a whole. He would eventually return to the project later.
Long story short, Gundam failed because Bandai did not believe it was profitable in the west and instead of finding ways to market the franchise, gave up on it, and if there’s no money to be made there’s no supply so there’s no demand so on and so forth vice versa yada yada ya. With this being said there’s are now only a few of us left in the Western world anyway who still enjoy the franchise, it still does very well in Japan where there are tens of 4 to 5 storey buildings dedicated to Gundam model kits and other figures and merchandise, which is fine, and the internet is vast and infinite. long as I can have these things shipped in good condition, then I’m a happy geek!
Right, that’s your lot for today. Messiah Complex shall return, but in the mean time, are you a Gundam fan too? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!